Dr Katerina Douka

Research Associate
Research Group Leader
Department of Archaeology
FINDER Research Group

Main Focus

My work traverses the interface of archaeological enquiry and analytical science and revolves around the spatio-temporal pattern of human dispersals and extinctions across Eurasia, whether these concern Neanderthals, Denisovans or modern humans. I am greatly interested in developments in radiometric dating and chronological precision (14C and Bayesian statistics) and the broader use of peptide mass fingerprinting (Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry) in human evolution and as a zooarchaeological tool.

My current projects include FINDER and "Dating the spread of the Neolithic across the Aegean". I currently supervise PhD student Naihui Wang (based at the MPI).

Previous PhD students include Lorena Becerra-Valdivia (Oxford) and Samantha Brown (MPI-SHH, now at the University of Tübingen).

Curriculum Vitae

I joined the MPI-SHH in June 2017 as Group Leader, and Principal Investigator of a 5-year, €2M ERC Starting Grant, with the acronym FINDER (Fossil Fingerprinting and Identification of New Denisovan remains from Pleistocene Asia) running from 2017-2024.

In 2021, I joined the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology of the University of Vienna where I am Associate Professor. 

My doctoral work at Oxford (2006-2011) used radiocarbon dates of shell beads as proxies of modern human expansion across the Mediterranean rim. Between 2011-2017 I held research positions in two major projects: AHOB focused on the Gravettian expansion, and PalaeoChron on the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition, which resulted in the production of over 1000 new AMS dates from ~150 sites across Eurasia.

I have held fellowships at Oxford (Junior Research Fellowship, Linacre College and William Golding Junior Research Fellowship, Brasenose College) and at the British School of Athens (Greece). 


I have co-authored over 100 research articles and book chapters. A selection appears below:

Douka, K., Slon, V., Jacobs, J., Bronk Ramsey, C., Shunkov, M.V., Derevianko, A.P., Mafessoni, F., Kozlikin, M.B. Li, Bo, Grün, R., Comeskey, D. Devièse, T., Brown, S., Viola, B., Kinsley, L., Buckley, M., Meyer, M., Roberts, R.G., Pääbo, S., Kelso, J., Higham, T. 2019. Age estimates for hominin fossils and the onset of the Upper Palaeolithic at Denisova Cave. Nature 565(7741), 640-644.

Douka, K., Brown, S., Higham, T., Pääbo, S., Derevianko, A., Shunkov, M. 2019. FINDER Project: Collagen fingerprinting (ZooMS) for the identification of new human fossils in Palaeolithic faunal assemblages. Antiquity 93:e1. 

Wedage, O., Amano, N., Langley, M.C., Douka, K., Blinkhorn, J., Crowther, A., Deraniyagala, S., Kourampas, N., Simpson, I., Perera, N., Picin, A., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M. and Roberts, P. 2019. Specialized rainforest hunting by Homo sapiens ~45,000 years ago. Nature Communications 10 (1), 739.

Hausmann, N., Meredith-Williams, M., Douka, K., Inglis, R.H., Bailey, G. 2019. Quantifying spatial variability in shell midden formation in the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia. PLoS ONE 14(6): e0217596.

Desmond, A., Barton, N., Bouzouggar, A., Douka, K., Fernandez, P., Humphrey, L., Morales, J., Turner, E., Buckley, M. 2018. ZooMS identification of bone tools from the North African Later Stone Age. Journal of Archaeological Science 98, 149-157.

Slon, V., Mafessoni, F., Vernot, B., de Filippo, C., Grote, S., Viola, B., Hajdinjak, M., Peyrégne, S., Nagel, S., Brown, S., Douka, K., Higham, T., Kozlikin, M.B., Shunkov, M.V., Derevianko, A.P., Kelso, J., Meyer, M., Prüfer, K. and Pääbo, S. 2018. The genome of the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father. Nature 561 (7721), 113-116.

Bae, C., Douka, K., Petraglia, M. 2017. On the origin of modern humans: Asian Perspectives. Science 358, 1269.

Douka, K., Higham, T. 2017. The chronological factor in understanding the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic of Eurasia. Current Anthropology 58(S17): S480-S490.

Bae, C., Douka, K., Petraglia, M. 2017 (Eds) Human Colonization of Asia in the Late Pleistocene. Current Anthropology Special Issue 58: S17.

Douka, K., Slon, V., Stringer, C., Potts, R., Hübner, A., Meyer, M., Spoor, F., Pääbo, S., Higham, T. 2017. Direct radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis of the Darra-i-Kur (Afghanistan) human temporal bone. Journal of Human Evolution 107: 86-93. 

Douka, K., Efstratiou, N., Hald, M., Henriksen, P., & Karetsou, A. 2017. Dating Knossos and the arrival of the earliest Neolithic in the southern Aegean. Antiquity 91(356): 304-321. 

Becerra-Valdivia, L., Douka, K., Comeskey, D., Bazgir, B., Conard, N. J., Marean, C. W., Ollé, A., Otte, M., Tumung, L., Zeidi, M. & Higham, T.F.G. 2017. Chronometric investigations of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition in the Zagros Mountains using AMS radiocarbon dating and Bayesian age modelling. Journal of Human Evolution 109: 57–69.

Douka, K. 2017. Radiocarbon dating of marine and terrestrial shell, in Allen, M.J. (ed) Molluscs in Archaeology: methods, approaches and applications. Studying Scientific Archaeology 3. Oxbow Books, pp. 381-389.

Proctor, C., Douka, K., Proctor, J.W. and Higham, T. 2017. The Age and Context of the KC4 Maxilla, Kent’s Cavern, UK. European Journal of Archaeology 20(1): 74–97. 

Brown, S., Higham, T., Slon, V., Pääbo, S., Meyer, M., Douka, K., Brock, F., Comeskey, D., Procopio, N., Shunkov, M., Derevianko, A., Buckley, M. 2016. Identification of a new hominin bone from Denisova Cave, Siberia using collagen fingerprinting and mitochondrial DNA analysis. Nature Scientific Reports 6: 23559. 

Douka, K., Bergman, K., Higham, T.F.G. 2015. Statistical and archaeological errors invalidate the proposed chronology for the site of Ksar Akil. PNAS USA 112 (51): E7034. 

Higham, C.F.W., Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G. 2015. A New Chronology for the Bronze Age of Northeastern Thailand and Its Implications for Southeast Asian Prehistory. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137542.  

Higham, T.F.G., Douka, K., Wood, R., Bronk Ramsey, C., Brock, F., et al. 2014. The timing and spatio-temporal patterning of Neanderthal disappearance. Nature 512: 306–309.

Douka, K., Grün, R., Jacobs, Z., Lane, C., Farr, L., Hunt, C., Inglis, R.H., Reynolds, T., Albert, P., Aubert, M., Cullen, V., Hill, E., Kinsley, L., Roberts, R.G., Tomlinson, E.L., Wulf, S., Barker, G. 2014. The chronostratigraphy of the Haua Fteah cave (Cyrenaica, northeast Libya). Journal of Human Evolution 66: 39–63.  

Douka, K., Higham, T.F.G., Wood, R., Boscato, P., Gambassini, P., Karkanas, P., Peresani, M., Ronchitelli, A. 2014. On the chronology of the Uluzzian. Journal of Human Evolution 68: 1-13.

Douka, K. 2013.  Exploring “the great wilderness of prehistory”: The chronology of the Middle to the Upper Palaeolithic transition in the northern Levant. Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 22: 11–40.

DoukaK., Bergman, C.A., Hedges, R.E.M., Wesselingh, F.P., Higham, T.F.G. 2013. Chronology of Ksar Akil (Lebanon) and implications for the colonization of Europe by anatomically modern humans. PLoS ONE 8(9): e72931.  

Douka, K. and Spinapolice, E. 2012. Neanderthal shell tool production: Evidence from Italy and Greece, Journal of World Prehistory, 25 (2): 45-79. 

DoukaK., Grimaldi, S., Boschian, G., del Lucchese, A., Higham, T.F.G. 2012. A new chronostratigraphic framework for the Upper Palaeolithic of Riparo Mochi (Italy). Journal of Human Evolution 62 (2): 286–299. 

Wood, R.E., Douka, K., Boscato, P., Haesaerts, P., Sinitsyn, A., Higham, T.F.G. 2012. Testing the ABOx-SC method: dating known age charcoals associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite. Quaternary Geochronology 9: 16–26.  

DoukaK., Perlès, C., Valladas, H., Vanhaeren, M., Hedges, R.E.M. 2011. Franchthi Cave revisited: the age of the Aurignacian in south-eastern Europe. Antiquity 85 (330): 1131–1150.

Benazzi, S., DoukaK., Fornai, C., Bauer, C.C., et al. 2011. Early dispersal of modern humans in Europe and implications for Neanderthal behaviour. Nature 479 (7374): 525–528.

Douka, K. 2011. An Upper Palaeolithic shell scraper from Ksar Akil (Lebanon). Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (2): 429-437.

Higham, C., Higham, T., Ciarla, R., DoukaK., Kijngam, A., Rispoli, F. 2011. The Origins of the Bronze Age of Southeast Asia. Journal of World Prehistory 24 (4), 227-274. 

Douka K., Hedges R.E.M., Higham T.F.G. 2010. Improved AMS 14C dating of shell carbonates using high-precision X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and a novel density separation protocol (CarDS). Radiocarbon 52 (2): 735-751.

Douka, K., Sinitsyn A., Higham T. 2010. The influence of pretreatment chemistry on the radiocarbon dating of Campanian Ignimbrite-aged charcoal from Kostenki 14 (Russia). Quaternary Research 73: 583-587.

Go to Editor View